Feedback is one of the most valuable things managers can give to their teams. When done right, feedback builds confidence, increases performance, stimulates motivation and supports employees’ development.
It is so important to give feedback that managers can’t just leave it to chance. Negative or positive, formal or friendly, general or specific, continuous or once in a while: feedback can take many forms and is never easy to give.
Here are simple and concrete tips to help managers give good and effective feedback to their teams.
- Give feedback as often as possible
- Be specific, use simple and direct words
- Focus on and leverage strengths
- Address issues with a constructive mindset
- Listen actively
- Make sure your feedback is clear
- Make it actionable and future-focused
- Give feedback only during annual reviews
- Hide behind vague and complex sentences
- Forget success and achievements
- Sugarcoat and avoid negative feedback
- Be the only one to talk
- Take for granted that message is understood
- Focus on the past
Give feedback as often as possible
The more often you give feedback, the more natural it will be for you and your team. Frequent feedback will reinforce your message and encourage employees to request more spontaneous feedback.
Feedback does not have to be formal, it can be given in real time and anywhere: check-ins, 1:1 meetings, in-the-moment situations or just at the coffee machine.
Be specific in what you say
Feedback should always be clear and actionable, not vague. Stay away from complex sentences that will make your message difficult to get and will confuse your team members. Instead use simple, direct and unambiguous words.
Referring to recent situations and reconnecting to concrete facts is often the best way to make sure your feedback is specific enough.
Be constructive and positive
Feedback comes in different forms, positive or negative. However, it should always be constructive. This is the best way to create confidence among your team and leverage on their best qualities.
Focusing on employees’ areas of expertise usually increases performance whereas insisting on weaknesses creates demotivation. However don’t avoid weaknesses if you want your team to be able to improve and grow. When you need to give negative feedback, you can present issues as developmental opportunities.
Don’t just talk, listen
If you want to see real changes in your team members after giving feedback, you need to make sure that they understand it and make it their own. A good start is to ask them to react to what you just said, whether they agree or not. You can also simply ask them to rephrase what they just heard.
You also need to listen to what your team has to say. If feedback is about sharing with team members what they need to change, listening actively can make them actually want to change. It makes a big difference.
Make feedback actionable
Good feedback is forward looking and actionable. To make it happen, focus your feedback on behaviors that your team members can actually do something about. If you are too judgemental and focus on the past, your team members will become defensive and it is unlikely that you will see positive changes.
Also try to identify concrete situations where your team members can practice what you just shared with them.